The Perils Of Choosing A New Manager. What Happened At Oldham When It All Went Wrong

Choosing a new manager at Oldham is something that happens on a pretty regular basis. In the last four years, we’ve had seven different faces at the club and, none of them have been given much time to build a side or lay down any long term plans.

Latics most successful period in their history was between 1970 and 1994 and coincided with having just two managers, Jimmy Frizzell and Joe Royle. Following Royle’s departure, the managerial revolving door was installed at Boundary Park and there has been a long list of visitors through it ever since.

The arrival of Paul Scholes must surely be the most high profile appointment of them all, as the spotlight has been firmly focused on the ex-Man United man and his desire to manage the club for some time. It may well herald a new era at Boundary Park if the fans give the new man the patience he surely deserves. Past appointments have either been hasty or poorly thought through with one or two spectacular failures on the part of the owners.

If you’re looking for an example of how not to go about appointing a manager, the day that Oldham appointed Darren Kelly on 5th May 2015 is a classic example. Kelly’s name wasn’t one that Oldham fans recognised and for good reason, as he arrived from Sunderland having had very little experience in coaching and a playing career that wasn’t much to shout about either.

Kelly had a coaching badge but his real skill was saved for how to conduct himself in an interview. Apparently, he impressed chairman Simon Corney so much that he was moved to say “From the moment we first met with him, Darren impressed the Board with his infectious enthusiasm, undoubted drive and energy and confidence in his ability to deliver success for our football club. 
Coupled with his extensive coaching experience, we believe he is the right person to oversee the rebuilding of the football side of our club
.”

Kelly was obviously delighted to be handed the job and said Is it a risk? Absolutely. From the supporters, the chairman and the board side of it, but do I think it is a risk? No, and I think I’ll prove that.” Sadly he didn’t, winning just one game against Fleetwood in the opening nine fixtures and departing the club after a 1-5 home defeat to Peterborough. His cause wasn’t exactly helped either by the bizarre news that he had hailed former IRA commander Martin McGuinness as a ‘legend’ in a tweet. He was quick to deny that he supported the IRA but as it had been reported by a source that peddles in fake outrage, the damage had obviously been done.

It is often the case that when a manager leaves a club and gets another job, he becomes instantly successful and can argue that he wasn’t given a proper crack of the whip. Not Kelly however who went on to manage National League side Halifax Town, lost his first game 7-1 and found himself out of work again after 10 games and only two wins. As if to demonstrate beyond doubt that management was perhaps not his best career choice, Halifax went on a twelve match unbeaten run following his departure.

Paul Scholes is no Darren Kelly obviously, and it is to be hoped that hasty and ill thought out appointments are now a thing of the past.

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